Written by TIFFANY MARSHALL of NAKOTA TUWA for THE DESIGN COLLECTIVE
I am Tif Florentina and this is the story behind Nakota Tuwa.
Ever since I was a little girl, I used to sew, knit and embroider with my lovely Nanna. This is where my first spark and influence for design began. My gorgeous mother is a very talented designer who worked for many big brands before she had kids. She worked with some kidswear brands, some naughty lingerie ones and also for Puma where she designed all the crazy 80’s bright coloured ski wear. My dad has a history of working with luxury goods. He has a great eye for fashion and an incredible business-oriented mind. Safe to say, the creative juices in the family were already flowing.
Throughout my childhood, we travelled and were very lucky to live all around the world. This enabled me to experience different cultures from birth. We lived in Tokyo, Germany, Hong Kong and Switzerland. Living in all these countries allowed me to really become malleable to any culture and make friends quickly. I also developed the ability to read people very well and understand who they are and what they want.
I studied Fashion Clothing & Design BTEC at Stamford College and then went on to get my BA (hons) degree in Fashion Design at Sheffield Hallam University. Anyone who has studied fashion can tell you it’s a tough course and requires a lot of hard work. Allnighters in the sewing rooms, going through hundreds of 2B pencils and fine liners and bandaging my injured fingers blistered from the hand sewing and thread cuts. But of course you also get to go and have wild times while meeting the most interesting characters when studying design.
Nakota Tuwa was born from my final collection at university. I was inspired by Native American culture and my obsession with feathers. As a little girl I was strongly influenced by Pocahontas and Mulan. These are two of the strongest women in the Disney world and, being a strong character myself, I always aspired to be like these independent women. The collection embodied the strength of a tribal warrior whilst maintaining the sexy, body empowered resort wear clothing of silk lycra bikinis and silk chiffon overlays.
After leaving college I joined an amazing group called ‘The Christy group’ based up in the North of England. We had the most fun designing fancy dress clothing for all the big supermarkets in the UK. We also had international clients including Disneyland Paris, which I was the manager for. After leaving I worked for some incredible fashion brands including All Saints, Boohoo and Missguided. To be honest, the big, crazy, fast fashion world was not for me.
So I packed a bag for the adventure of my life.
After travelling around a few countries in Asia, stopping off in Vietnam and teaching English for six months, Sri Lanka’s luscious, magical island grounded me. There was something inspiring and powerful about the island which I was so drawn to.
This is when the true Nakota Tuwa was born.
The designs all come from sketches I hand drew and technical garment drawings. The main inspiration was to design comfortable yet sexy clothing that could be worn by all shapes and sizes. We only use block earthy colours as we feel that less is always more. It acts as a beautiful, clear canvas for anyone to tell their story wearing and styling the pieces in their own way.
A year after starting the clothing line and searching all over Pettah and Maharagama for the perfect lycra to start producing our yoga wear line, we finally came across the most wonderful place. They get all their fabrics as off-cuts from big international factories, which we then take and recycle to create buttery soft activewear. We now have a beautiful team of very talented seamstresses working on making all our collections with love and passion. The team has the most incredible energy and there are always smiles all around. We are all a true family to help and support each other.
Due to the amazing amount of online orders throughout COVID-19, we were able to not only pay the team the salary they deserve but also help feed the whole village by distributing rice and curries to the neighbours.
Wearing Nakota Tuwa clothing isn’t only about loving yourself, but also feeling that special Sri Lankan magic and support that radiates through the clothes. This makes the wearer feel amazing from the inside out.
As the world has been on standstill we have utilised this time to get all the ideas flowing and create new and exciting collections and lines. In December we released our ‘Be your own kind of beautiful’ campaign, focusing on self love. We did the most amazing shoot with a gorgeous range of models that included mature, curvaceous and pregnant women with gorgeous skin tones.
With this campaign, we really wanted to get the message out there that no matter what shape or size, no matter if we have wrinkles or stretch marks, we are all beautiful. You can see from the shoot all the models were truly happy and felt gorgeous in their clothes and their skin. The clothing is just there to enhance the beauty you already hold.
Our latest launch is our swimwear range. In true Nakota Tuwa fashion, we are sticking to earthy tones and block colours and focusing on the silhouettes to suit all shapes and sizes. We have also added in a few exciting splashes of brighter colours.
In January we held our ‘Wellness month’ where we helped inspire customers by sharing workout routines and meditations to help everyone focus on what really matters – YOU.
We created a blog, logging all the routines so that you can try all or some whenever you feel like it. We also included some inspiring pieces from friends and inspirational people. Following its success we decided to continue helping people to focus on themselves and their wellness.
Nakota Tuwa isn’t just a brand, it’s a community. From music suggestions on our Spotify and Youtube channels to wellness and fitness advice–we have it all. In an effort to help the community, we give 10% of our profits to a local charity called Sabol Foundation.
All the clothing we create is made to enhance your beauty while making you feel comfortable and look elegant. We are constantly creating new and exciting pieces so keep your eye on our website and Instagram. There’s always something fun and interactive ongoing that we would love for you to take part in!
Shop the range of Nakota Tuwa yoga wear:
Shop the range of Nakota Tuwa swimwear:
Shop the range of Nakota Tuwa yoga wear: